Comparison: Honda CB Hornet 160R Against Yamaha FZ FI and Suzuki Gixxer

Published On Dec 22, 2015 By for CB Hornet 160R at

Hornet-160R-1.jpg Honda is known for their laidback approach in the market. They are one of the best in the business and their vehicles are often so good at the function that they borderline on being a bit boring. Sounds ironic? Yet, they react to the market needs when they think they should and at times they are quite late (as we feel) which can be frustrating for people looking for options. Even termed conservative in their approach, but Honda, usually, never fails to deliver. The most interesting aspect of all this is that Honda has often set standards for others to follow, but then they go into a prolonged sleep when it comes to upgrading their stuff. Take the motorcycle market in India for instance, directly or indirectly, Honda has probably made the biggest impact on the kind of motorcycles that get flooded in a segment by the time it becomes hot. CD100, Splendor, 1st generation CBZ, Karizma, Unicorn and the CBR250R are all examples of trend-setting motorcycles in the country (and in the world). Yet, when it comes to upgrading their lineup with the growing competition, Honda often takes a bit more time than we would like them to. At the almost-end of 2015, Honda has finally broken the shackles of the Unicorn and seems best prepared this time to take on the sportier 150cc commuter segment with the all-new CB Hornet 160R. In recent years, while the competition moved ahead with the likes of Yamaha FZ (and now Suzuki Gixxer), Honda kept trying for their share of the pie in the market with good, but lacklustre, motorcycles like the Unicorn Dazzler and Trigger. With the Hornet 160R, Honda has the best chance to take on its direct rivals – Yamaha FZ and Suzuki Gixxer – that they have ever had. So we put the all-new Honda against the two players who are not just warmed-up but leading the segment in full speed.Hornet-160R-1.jpg First Impression Is the Last Impression It is possibly the most controversial phrases that man has ever coined. Not always true, but can still hold its worth in certain situations. How about in the case of a machine, as the performance is dependent on how it is made, the quality of materials used, how well they are put together and the care it is given during its lifetime? The design is the first thing of a motorcycle that gets noticed and it leads to the first opinion or impression. The CB Hornet 160R looks impressive from the start and purpose built as a naked. For the first time in this segment, Honda has adopted the most aggressive design for the motorcycle. Hornet looks sharp and edgy from all angles. It is well built and the fit-n-finish is good as in typical Honda quality, but I didn’t really like the faux carbon fibre plastic strip running over the middle of the fuel tank (it does, however, looks decent enough). The headlight has a conventional design by today’s standards – sharp and triangular in shape and sitting slightly lower – accompanied by a well-finished, full digital display console giving away all sorts of relevant information to the rider. The display quality is good and legible in all lighting conditions. The fuel tank has the sharpest profile in the entire design, the tank shrouds on either side is a one-piece unit in the tank giving it a muscular and edgy appearance. The handlebar is a single-piece unit as well and is flatter which is a norm in a streetfighter. The quality of the switchgear is fine, but it is a mystery why Honda didn’t put an engine-kill switch. Coming to the tail-light, it is possibly the most striking element of the Hornet. The X-shaped tail light is unique and a recognizable trait of the motorcycle. When lit, it looks pretty awesome. With wide 100/80 and 140/70 tyres on 17-inch wheels front and rear respectively, the Hornet looks muscular, sharp and with the right amount of fat. It is a pretty good looking motorcycle.Hornet-160R-1.jpg With this, the Hornet is well equipped to take on the Gixxer and the FZ/FZ FI. Looks are subjective, though, but we would put Hornet above FZ as far as looks are concerned. Yamaha’s latest FZ FI (Fuel Injection) is pretty decent looking. It looks closer to its litre class sibling FZ1 now and from certain angles, the FZ FI appears quite beautiful. But the biggest eyesore in its design is the rear mudguard which looks like an ugly aftermarket fitment. Without it, it will be hard to choose between this and the Hornet. For us, the Gixxer is the best-looking motorcycle of the bunch. Where the Hornet and FZ end up looking a bit plasticky (especially at the fuel tank), the Gixxer comes across as more solid and tougher looking. All three motorcycles have a single-piece flat handlebar, full digital console, fat tyres front and rear and a mono-shock at the back as well, but Gixxer’s proportions are more compact than the other two making it appear more suitable for the purpose. The biggest reason for its compact looks is a bit less bodywork.Hornet-160R-1.jpg Our choice in Looks and Design: Suzuki Gixxer. The Heart – the Engine For bikers who are more concerned about the performance, looks are secondary to what the engine can do. Here, all three motorcycles are competitive but, quite naturally, not equal in performance. [gallery link="file" ids="19027,19028,19026"] The Hornet is a smooth performer but feels underwhelming. As soon as you put it in the first gear and move ahead fast like in a drag race, the engine will respond good enough for its specs but it would also appear uninterested in doing so. We believe, we know why – the Hornet sports a 162.71cc single cylinder, air-cooled, 2 valve engine which is all-new (not a derivative of the 1st gen Unicorn’s engine), but it is the same unit that is present in the latest Unicorn 160. In the Hornet, the same engine is tuned for slightly more power and torque (15.8PS @ 8500 RPM and 14.76NM @ 6500 RPM). Like a typical Honda, Hornet’s engine often usually feels a bit too calm, sedate and lacking character. On paper, it is more powerful than both FZ (FI) and the Gixxer, but it doesn’t really reflect on the road. All three motorcycles are competitive up to the 100 kph mark, but then the first one to lose steam is the Yamaha FZ. While the FZ FI is 4cc down compared to the previous FZ and has slightly less power and torque figures too, the fuel injection ensures better acceleration throughout the rev range. Combined with Yamaha’s Blue-Core technology, the FZ FI also gives better fuel efficiency compared to its carburetted sibling. The lower wet-weight of 132kgs (3 kgs lighter than the previous FZ) also assists in accelerating it better. Yet, the FZ FI gets relatively slower between itself, the Gixxer and the Hornet as the revs climb to the red-line. The re-tuned Unicorn 160’s engine in the Hornet, on the other hand, also struggles once it’s passed 100 kph but responds better than the FZ. Like Yamaha’s Blue Core tech, Honda has equipped the Hornet with HET (Honda Eco Technology) and it works in a similar fashion as well providing the best possible engine performance and fuel efficiency. We were able to hit a top speed of 107 kph and it felt like it could have done 4-5 kph more at the most. It did feel almost at the limit at that speed. The Gixxer has the best engine performance of the trio. This little Suzuki continues to pull strongest well past the ton mark till its top speed of around 115-120 kph. Not to mention that it feels the least stressed as well while doing so. The icing on the cake is that the Gixxer sounds pretty awesome for a simple, 150cc single, air-cooled engine throughout its rev range. For its size, the Gixxer’s engine roars as soon as it crosses 7000 RPM while the other two remain much quieter and stressed. It is full of character (once in gear) and would prove anybody wrong who would argue otherwise. The Suzuki Eco Performance (SEP) ensures that the performance and fuel efficiency remain good and consistent in all riding conditions. Our choice in Engine Performance: Suzuki Gixxer. It would have been the Yamaha FZ FI if it had the performance to match Gixxer. The fuel injection is a great improvement that promises trouble-free starts in any weather besides more consistent fuelling, performance and fuel efficiency. Sadly, though, the Gixxer is not only more powerful, but it sounds better, has more character and is pretty fuel efficient as well. The Hornet, like we said, is just too soft in its nature to excite us. Handling (How do they turn) You can make a visually stunning motorcycle having a good engine, but if it doesn’t handle well then it is only half as good as it should be.Hornet-160R-1.jpg Good for us, though, all three motorcycles are good handlers. The Hornet at 142 kgs (CBS variant and 140 kgs for non-CBS variant) is 7 kgs heavier than the Gixxer and full 10 kgs heavier than the FZ FI; still, it probably feels the lightest to throw around. Honda has done a brilliant job of keeping the higher wet-weight almost non-existent. The Hornet is so light to manoeuvre that it feels a bit too light-footed at times. Handling is neutral and predictable, nothing special there – it won’t tickle your senses and won’t prompt you to say “wow”. It just does what it does. The only thing that is going to put a smile is the featherweight feeling of the motorcycle. It is just effortless to ride which is partly due to the upright riding position as well. The rider sits like on a Motocross bike – upright and feet rested on rear-set foot-pegs. Among the three, the Hornet impresses the least on hitting corners. It is good enough on its own, just not as good as the FZ and Gixxer when you would want to be enthusiastic going into a corner. FZ has always been a very good handler, the best among its naked peers and the new FZ FI is an improvement. New and lighter chassis with 4mm shorter wheelbase at 1330mm compared to the previous FZ makes it, even more, fun to ride. The FZ FI is astonishingly 10 kgs lighter than the Hornet at 132kgs, yet it feels more planted on the road in all riding conditions. It is one of the best 150cc motorcycles under a lakh to have fun on.Hornet-160R-1.jpg Call the Gixxer a spoiler because it is here to spoil the FZ’s party. Spend enough time on the Gixxer and you will be convinced that nothing else is sportier in its segment. The Gixxer can please even the ones who swear by R15’s (being the only track-oriented 150cc motorcycle) handling prowess. All three run on a single diamond frame, but the Gixxer handles on another level. If it had a bigger engine, the Gixxer would be a pretty capable track tool as well, no kidding. Apparently, the faired Gixxer SF is a pretty good choice for an amateur to start riding on track. This little Suzuki is the most planted and stable motorcycle in the trio and leans hardest. To put it in perspective, the R15 might be the best handling motorcycle in the entire 150cc category, but the Gixxer is the best of the naked bunch. It is just too good. Comfort wise, the Hornet has an absolutely upright riding stance while both FZ FI and Gixxer keep the rider leaned slightly forward. But the seating position alone doesn’t make for the whole comfort, the Gixxer offers the best ride quality over the variety of road conditions. It is plush enough while keeping the motorcycle most stable and the seat is good enough as well. [gallery link="file" ids="19030,19032,19031"] Braking on all three motorcycles is quite top-notch. Front brakes on all three give decent feedback and offer enough bite to instill confidence under hard or panic braking. The Hornet, here, has an upper hand as it offers disc brake at the rear as well and this particular variant (dual disc) is equipped with Honda’s CBS technology. The CBS is Combined Brake System and what this does is it applies some amount of front brake as well when only the rear brake is applied by the rider providing overall better stability under braking. People with absolutely basic riding skill (who are not quite accustomed to disc brakes) have a tendency to rely more on the rear brake, so this system is more helpful for them. Our choice in Handling (and Comfort) – Suzuki Gixxer. No contest here. The Hornet wins in braking with the CBS variant. Also Read: Gaadi Exclusive: Honda Hornet 160R Review Which one should you get? Frankly, all three are extremely good motorcycles and priced competitively. There’s nothing like a bad motorcycle today unless it suffers from certain “characteristic-defects”. And unless you are hell bent on finding the best among these three, any of these would be a good investment. Which means that you should get the Suzuki Gixxer and call it a day. Also Read: Suzuki Gixxer: Full roadtest review, details, specification, price [gallery size="medium" link="file" ids="18934,18935,18940,18938,18933,18932,18931,18930"]

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